David Element

 

Wildlife Photography and Digital Video Images

 

___________________________________________________________________________________________ Beetles 36 – Forest Caterpillar-hunter Beetles

 

 

 

A insect on a wooden surface

Description automatically generated

 

FOREST CATERPILLAR-HUNTER BEETLE Calosoma sycophanta

 

A insect on the ground

Description automatically generated

 

FOREST CATERPILLAR-HUNTER BEETLE Calosoma sycophanta

 

A insect on the sidewalk

Description automatically generated

 

FOREST CATERPILLAR-HUNTER BEETLE Calosoma sycophanta

 

A insect on the ground

Description automatically generated

 

FOREST CATERPILLAR-HUNTER BEETLE Calosoma sycophanta

 

A insect on the ground

Description automatically generated

 

FOREST CATERPILLAR-HUNTER BEETLE Calosoma sycophanta

 

·         Forest Caterpillar-hunter Beetles Calosoma sycophanta are great allies of foresters in Continental Europe as these ground beetles (by name only as they spend much of their time climbing trees!) are voracious predators of the larvae of moths responsible for the defoliation of Oaks Quercus spp. and other significant woodland trees. They are also rather beautiful insects. Their prey includes the larvae of the prolific and very damaging Gipsy Moth Lymantria dispar and Oak Processionary Moth Thaumetopoea processionea, both of which can cause significant irritation to human skin and therefore pose a public health problem. These photographs were taken in the South of France at a location where both predator and prey were common. It is not known if this beetle also predates the larvae of the equally damaging alien Box Moth Cydalima perspectalis – but it would be much appreciated by horticulturalists if it did. Technically the Gipsy Moth is a native insect in the UK as it has bred sporadically in the past, but the Oak Processionary Moth (often abbreviated to ‘OPM’) is a recent arrival. As both of these moths have recently become well-established at sites in London (where the latter is being controlled by biological means that pose no threat to other wildlife) there must be some possibility of this beetle (currently an uncommon, localised inhabitant with only one confirmed UK breeding population) becoming more widely established in the future in response to food availability and the warming climate - if it is not artificially introduced beforehand in an attempt to biologically control these invasive moths. A full account of the status of this beetle may be found here on the UK Beetles web site: https://www.ukbeetles.co.uk/calosoma-sycophanta.

 

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